A few months ago, I wrote about my experience with a social media platform that most people might not recognize as Big Tech, as it’s not as humungous as Facebook or Twitter. But it really is big --- worth a couple of billion dollars last time I counted. It’s called Nextdoor. You probably have it in your town. Maybe you’re a member and use it to talk to your neighbors about trash pick-up, car break-ins and missing pets. Especially missing pets.

As I said then, Nextdoor gives the appearance of something local, a way for neighbors to have the online equivalent of over-the-back-fence conversations, like in the “good old days” before social media, but it’s actually a global corporation headquartered in San Francisco and, as you will see, is quite reflective of that mindset. Their “Neighborhood Advisory Board” includes “diverse academics and experts, in the fields of social psychology, equality and civic engagement.”

As I used Nextdoor, I started noticing that when I typed certain words, a screen automatically came up that said “FACTS MATTER...” and lectured me, for example, on using the correct name of the virus: COVID-19. Refer to the Wuhan lab, or China, or concerns about the vaccines, or doubts about mask effectiveness, or anything else that wasn’t sanctioned information (much of which has turned out to be wrong), and your post would be removed. You might even go to “jail” and inexplicably be suspended from Nextdoor for a period of weeks. This happened to me once, and I hadn’t violated their so-called “community standards” even a little bit.

To give an idea, I once typed the word “homeless,” not even in the context of homeless people, and a screen came up telling me to “be kind” in my use of words. Similar screens –- I called them “nanny screens, and ND became “Nanny Dearest” –- would pop up every now and then, quite inappropriately, as I was always kind and always accurate.) Nextdoor was actively trying to “nudge” our use of language and guide the conversation.

It was last October when I wrote for Gov. Huckabee about Nextdoor finally crossing a line. A neighbor I’m calling “Andy” had started posting silly jokes –- very un-PC –- on Nextdoor, just to give people a little something to laugh about during the pandemic. This installment from our archives tells what happened to his fun little project, and also details my research into what Nextdoor actually is...

So here’s where we pick up our story. Andy formed a private group to post “Daily Laughter” instead of putting it in the General Comments, thinking that since it was something neighbors could choose to join or not join, the higher-ups would leave it alone. And for a while, that seemed to be the case. But a few days ago, one of his editions would not post, though he tried repeatedly.

Andy sent me a PM (private message) asking me to help him figure out if it had posted. I said that, no, I couldn’t see it. And then it occurred to me: something in it was being censored. “Send it to me in a PM,” I said, “and I’ll look at it and see if I can tell what they might have had a problem with.”

So he did. Overall, this edition of “Daily Laughter” seemed typical of what Andy sent out every day. But since I’ve done research on Critical Race Theory, specifically on materials that were used by organizations such as the Salvation Army, I knew there was a list of words and phrases that had been called into question for supposedly having “racial” overtones. One of these, unfortunately, was “black sheep.” It’s not intended to be racist, but that doesn’t mean purveyors of CRT view it as not-racist. Believe me, they can FIND a reason to “blacklist” (oops, there’s another one) just about ANYTHING as racist. From Max Avery at The Liberty Loft...

“The Critical Race Theory proponents assert that virtually anything anyone can imagine is racist. The names of certain animals are racist, music theories and genres can be considered racist in general, and even mathematics can be regarded as racist. According to CRT, racism is “normal” and not an aberration, and its advocates call this “systemic racism,” in which case Critical Race Theory is defined as “a study” of this so-called systemic racism by finding racism in all aspects of western society.”

I know, it’s hard to believe that anyone would consider this term racist. For example, Hunter Biden is definitely the black sheep of his family, but if anyone is an example of privilege, he’s it.

I digress. Anyway, the expression “black sheep” happened to appear in that day’s edition of “Daily Laughter,” with no racial context at all. I told Andy that I might have “cracked the code” –- gotten into these so-called progressives’ heads –- and figured out that this was the “problematic” choice of words in that day’s “Daily Laughter” and the likely reason he hadn’t been able to post. I said, “Let’s conduct a test! Try posting again, without the line containing the words “black sheep.”

He did, and it posted right away.

So Nextdoor really is interfering in the “neighborhood” conversation, sometimes, it seems, in subtle ways. We think we’re just talking to our neighbors, but we’re being monitored --- even, as I see now, in the private groups. (Because of the monitoring and constant threat of “going to jail,” I had already stopped posting in General Comments.) So, now what?

Andy wants to keep posting “Daily Laughter” for his group, and it’s such a nice thing for him to do. He works on this every day. Over 400 people have signed up, and we really like getting these old, corny “dad” jokes, “blonde” jokes,” “Little Johnny” jokes,” “man-walks-into-a-bar” jokes, etc. (I submitted a “How cold is it?” joke for yesterday, in keeping with the ice storm we’re having in Dallas-Ft. Worth: “How cold is it?” “It’s so cold, the local flasher is only describing himself.”)

I hope that made you laugh, because it’s time to get serious now, as the saddest part of this story is Andy’s most recent message to me. I had written him to say how offended I was --- and I’m not easily offended --- that Nextdoor had essentially flagged his content as racist, when I knew he would never post racist content and the members of this group would never want it. He wrote, “I agree. But I guess whatever they want to do. I’m not bowing down, I’m just tired of fighting with them!!! I will tell you one thing, if they put me in jail again, I’m done with Nextdoor!!!”

And that’s what Big Tech is counting on, that we’ll just get tired of fighting with them. They’re waiting a bit longer for us to learn to use the right pronouns and vocabulary and to accept that we can never joke about a long list of things. Well, count me OUT. Humor is my last stand, even it it’s just for the right to tell a “blonde joke.” This is a hill I would die on.

You can read more of Laura’s work here.

Worst President Ever

February 4, 2022

American history education is at such a low point that polls about the best or worst anything “ever” are meaningless. Very few people these days have the foggiest notion of what happened before they came on the scene. It’s why there are so many YouTube videos about the “Worst Movies Ever” that include nothing made before 1995 (they never heard of Ed Wood?) It’s also why polls on the “Worst President Ever” are fairly pointless. How many people these days can honestly say whether Trump or Biden was better or worse at the job than, say, James K. Polk?

But a new Rasmussen poll that shows Biden falling into “Worst President Ever” territory does contain some useful info worth discussing.

Respondents were about evenly split on whether Obama was among the best ever, the worst or about average. That seems reasonable and predictable. With Trump, 41% said best, 43% said worst, and only 12% said average, which suggests that his coverage was so partisan and feelings so inflamed that hardly anyone was on the fence. But it was still a pretty even split. However, with Biden, 25% said average, only a diehard partisan 15% said best, and a whopping 54% said “worst.” Even among Democrats, “worst” edged out “best” by 28-27%.

Assessing Biden’s place in history will fall to historians, if there are any unbiased historians left. But you know he’s doing a pretty lousy job when even his own partisan base is more likely to think he’s the worst President ever than the best.

Oh, and for the record, trust me: James K. Polk was a FAR better President than Biden. Polk oversaw bringing Texas and most of the states that are now the western half of the US into the union from Mexico. All Biden’s done is open up the borders of those states.

Trudeau Fail

February 4, 2022

Here is how Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded on Twitter to the massive protest by truckers against the vaccine mandates and other regulations that are destroying their livelihoods - a protest enjoying broad public support:

“Today in the House, members of Parliament unanimously condemned the antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, homophobia and transphobia that we’ve seen on display in Ottawa over the past number of days. Together, let’s keep working to make Canada more inclusive.”

Wow, you can tell how desperate he is by the fact that he threw the entire kitchen sink of the left’s white supremacy pejoratives at his critics. Usually, they try to parcel out the groundless accusations, but Trudeau is so panicky that he hurled all his worn-out “isms” to see if any of them would stick.

FYI: they didn’t. In fact, take a look at photos of Canada’s truckers and protesters. You’ll note that they’re unlikely “white supremacists,” since most of them are Sikh immigrants from India.

Also from that article: “The increasing number of protesters prompted police to prepare for the possibility of violence. As of now, no injuries or deaths have been reported.” Yes, that’s what an actual “peaceful protest” looks like. You don’t have to overlook any widespread arson to qualify it as “mostly peaceful.”

The only way Trudeau is making Canada more inclusive is that he's bringing so many people together to support the truckers and reject his vacuous woke nonsense.

The good news is that while Trudeau obviously fails to get the message, others can sense which way the wind is blowing, and it’s blowing away from governments seizing more power and trampling on people’s rights with destructive “health emergency” measures that aren't even helping. The premier of Saskatchewan wrote a letter of support for the truckers and set a target date of this month to end vaccination requirements, saying they’re no longer reducing transmission of the Omicron variant. And Quebec’s premier, surprised by the huge public backlash, dropped his plans to tax the unvaccinated.

And it’s not just in Canada: freedom is breaking out all over as public backlash has grown against harsh COVID restrictions that have done little or nothing to reduce COVID deaths.

Watching Trudeau spew all those empty “isms” and seeing that they no longer intimidate people into silence is one of the best pieces of news that Western civilization has seen in years. If for nothing else, those Canadian truckers have earned a big salute from everyone who cares about freedom of thought and speech, limited government and the rights of the individual.

Finally, some perfect illustrations of what I hope is the last gasp of mindless, unscientific COVID compliance theater by our hypocritical elites, check out this photo courtesy of the Gun Free Zone blog.

It’s a group of professional cheerleaders posing with basketball legend Magic Johnson. The young gymnasts in peak physical condition (a group at lowest risk from COVID) are all wearing masks. The only one not wearing a mask is the rich and famous 62-year-old overweight retiree who's had HIV for 31 years.

Magic also wasn’t wearing a mask in these photos with COVID lockdown fanatics, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. But then, neither were any of them.

At least Garcetti had an excuse: he held his breath for two seconds. Take that, virus!

Blame Climate Change

February 4, 2022

Here’s something new to blame inflation on other than Joe Biden and the Democrats’ policies: climate change!

The Atlantic magazine tries to explain that reasoning, which I’m not even going to bother to recap. Click the link if you want to read it, but here’s a sample quote to show what it's worth: “The surge in dollars can’t explain why gas prices are so high.” Actually, it can. That, plus the fact that immediately upon taking office, Biden launched a war on domestic fossil fuel production, destroying our energy independence and once again reducing us to having to beg OPEC to pump more oil.

But I will toss them one bone: the rampant inflation (which is actually much higher than what’s reflected by the finessed government CPI numbers) has its roots in policies that have been going on since long before Biden took office. This is the result of a long series of terrible decisions by Presidents, Congress and the Federal Reserve. For decades, we’ve been running up debt, printing money, letting the Fed buy up debt, bailing out banks that made bad decisions, running up trade deficits, losing our manufacturing base, paying people to be unproductive, and keeping interest rates ridiculously low to keep the bubble inflated. Now, all those bad decisions are coming to a head.

When President Reagan took office, he faced a similar situation. He and Fed Chair Paul Volker bit the bullet and raised interest rates. The prime rate reached 21.5% and the economy went into recession. The Democrats blamed Reagan to their political advantage. But Reagan knew it was necessary to end stagflation, and it worked: inflation fell from 14.8% to below 3%, setting the stage for the boom of the ‘80s. As Reason used to point out, “You’ll notice they don’t call it ‘Reaganomics’ anymore now that it’s working.”

But politicians like Reagan who are willing to put the good of the nation above their immediate political fortunes are few and far between these days. Now the Fed talks about raising interest rates by a fraction of a point, and the stock market drops by a thousand points. Raising interest rates would mean all of our taxes would go to paying the interest on the massive debt we’ve run up (which just topped $30 trillion this week, not that many media outlets remarked on it.)

We’re left with no easy solutions and precious few hard ones. The one thing you’d think Washington could do is recognize the huge hole we’re in and stop digging. Unfortunately, Biden and the Democrats in Congress want to deal with that hole by printing even more money, buying a steam shovel with it, and digging the hole even deeper (they’ll call it an “infrastructure” project.)

For that, they do deserve blame for the current rising inflation numbers. They lit the fire long ago, it’s smoldered for a long time as nobody did anything about it, and now they’re pouring $4-a-gallon gasoline on it.

Must-Read Article

February 4, 2022

Matt Taibbi, the red-pilled former Rolling Stone writer, has a must-read article on Substack about the way Facebook and the “fact-checking” site it often relies on, Lead Stories, use the phrase “missing context” to disparage and discourage the sharing of stories that are “true, but inconvenient.”

The story it centers on was an accurate account of a whistleblower’s accusations about a company that was involved in the trials of the Pfizer COVID vaccine. The author of that story, a meticulous former Congressional researcher, said Lead Stories and Facebook didn’t do a fact-check, they just didn’t like the story and were “checking narrative, not fact.”

What’s frightening about this is that it’s not only being used as an excuse to censor information under the guise of it being “misinformation,” but the current White House occupants not only approve but are encouraging more of it:

The Founders in their wisdom understood that the free exchange of ideas and information was the best way to ensure that good ideas prevail. Anyone espousing bad ideas could be exposed by people freely destroying their arguments. When governments (or in this case, politicized speech platforms doing the bidding of their CEOs or the White House) block that free speech, it doesn’t go away. It just goes underground, where there’s less chance of it being exposed.

“Misinformation” has become a pseudonym for “things we don’t like people talking about,” just as “dangerous misinformation” now means, “things people shouldn't be allowed to talk about." But that all depends on who’s defining “dangerous misinformation.”

Every day, I see the same media outlets who want Joe Rogan silenced giving air time to racial dividers, anti-police campaigners and America-hating socialists, all of whom are spewing what I consider extremely dangerous misinformation, and I can point to the tragic consequences of their policies to prove it. But providing a platform to those spewers of dangerous garbage is MSNBC’s business model.

If these alleged “fact-checkers” have a legitimate reason for disputing a story, then let’s hear it. But first, let’s hear the original story. And let’s all remember that we have a God-given right to free speech and freedom of the press, and the President has no right whatsoever to interfere in that. If Biden faces impeachment over facilitating the breaking of immigration laws thousands of times over, then please throw into the charges that he also unconstitutionally abused his power by leaning on private companies to censor Americans’ right to free speech.